Early Christmas present for Van Gaal, Bayern

December 9, 2009

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal got an early Christmas present. He gets to keep his job until at least after the festive season is over following Bayern’s 4-1 crushing of Juventus in Italy to advance to the Champions League knockout stage.

Two weeks ago the Dutchman, who took over in July, looked to be on his way out with Bayern needing two wins in the remaining Champions League matches to advance, while languishing in seventh place in the Bundesliga.

Bayern have now won four consecutive matches, including two in the league to move into fourth place, four points off the top, and any talk regarding the coach has been put on the backburner.

“The way we played fascinated everyone,” Bayern General Director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told his team and invited guests at a midnight banquet at the Hotel Principe di Piemonte, as waiters served tuna, beef and salmon. “It was a magical night which we did not expect. Here, even with our best players, we always had to settle for defeats. It is an early Christmas present for us and our fans.”

Van Gaal could not be happier. The team is on a winning run, despite missing its two best players through injury. Striker Mario Gomez, relegated to the bench for much of the season, has now scored in the four of the last five matches and with Dutchman Arjen Robben finally fully fit and playmaker Franck Ribery set to return to action after the winter break, things could not be rosier for van Gaal. Only two weeks ago he was under fire for not being able to do anything right.

PHOTO: Bayern Munich’s Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (L) celebrates with his teammates Mario Gomez (C) and Bastian Schweinsteiger after scoring against Juventus during their Champions League soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Turin December 8, 2009. Bayern Munich won 4-1. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

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